Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak) is upset and alarmed that the police called Universiti Malaya student Mohd Akmal Haziq in for questioning over a memorandum highlighting student welfare issues.
The group took the police to task for summoning Mohd Akmal, who is also Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar Universiti Malaya (MPPUM) president, to the Pantai police station on Dec 25.
"Akmal was evidently summoned for questioning about the demonstration he led within the UM campus a couple of weeks ago, on Dec 13.
"The peaceful demonstration, held in front of UM’s Chancellory, was to demand from the university better welfare and other student services, like improved student transportation, campus security, greater maintenance of campus property, a more frequent shuttle service and a student-friendly administration," said a statement released by the Gerak exco today.
"A 13-point memorandum was submitted by the students. It was about genuine student concerns and certainly didn’t contain anything that warranted police action," added the academic grouping.
Gerak said that the summoning came as a bit of a shocker and smacked of intimidation, harassment and overkill.
"Did the police act based on reports and complaints? If so, by whom? If it was by the university authorities, couldn’t they have instead got together with the students to discuss their concerns, rather than act like authoritarian bullies looking down on their students?" Gerak questioned.
The group cited Education Minister Maszlee Malik's consistent calls for greater freedom in the campuses, saying that this latest episode seemed to indicate an annoying reluctance by the authorities to treat a major stakeholder, our students, with respect and seriousness.
"It suggests that the Pakatan Harapan government that was elected on a platform of reforms still has a long way to go to make the hopes of the rakyat for reformed universities a reality.
"Indeed, there appears to be a deep intransigence among many public university vice-chancellors toward implementing the reformist policies and strategies of this government."
Gerak strongly urged Maszlee to impress upon all university VCs the need to be in step with the government’s reform agenda and to be more open to suggestions and criticisms by affected parties.
"Failing which, it may be best for them to resign their positions in favour of others who will," Gerak added.